For privatisation in Primary Care in North Tyneside (“Livi”), please scroll down for…
1: Summer 2020: Livid – North Tyneside on the slippery privatisation slope
2: September 2021: North Tyneside CCG evaluation
3: May 2021: Read the KONPNE statement to North Tyneside CCG
4: CURRENT: Four actions if you live in North Tyneside
5: CURRENT: Two actions if you live outside North Tyneside
6: Strong objections and key issues
7: Livi on the run
8: …and Livi in the shadows
9: Activity so far
10: NO TO LIVI…every 45 seconds
11: 632 People say NO….and watch the video here…..
12: How does your Council shape up?
For privatisation in other Primary Care locations, please click here
Summer 2020: Livid – North Tyneside on the slippery privatisation slope
The private firm Livi was awarded a one-year contract to carry out virtual consultations in Primary Care in North Tyneside, from Summer 2020 – see here. Whilst this was claimed to be a pilot scheme, and was to be seen as an addition to the usual GP clinical work, it undoubtedly remains part of a very slippery privatisation slope: Livi claims to be Europe’s largest digital healthcare provider.
KONPNE anticipates that other CCGs may attempt to follow suit and we need to fight against this insidious privatisation of the NHS. Let us be crystal clear: CCGs should not be wasting taxpayers money by contracting out to private, profit making companies with shareholders.
In this instance, the contract was awarded by North Tyneside CCG and patients registered with North Tyneside practices received this letter over the summer:
28th September 2021: The CCG evaluation
The one year pilot has now been evaluated by North Tyneside CCG – to read this document, please click HERE
North Tyneside CCG report “North Tyneside CCG, following an evaluation exercise, has extended the Livi pilot contract while it procures a ‘Complementary GP Video Consultation Service’ for North Tyneside. The timescales for procurement have not yet been finalised given the changes in CCG’s and Integrated Care System. Details of the procurement timeline will be published on the website once it has been confirmed”.
Unsurprisingly, members of KONPNE remain angry that North Tyneside CCG have seen fit to extend this contract to this private business for a further and unspecified period, and members remain wary that the future procurement of this or a similar service will firmly embed privatised services within Primary Care across the Borough. There is no doubt that our Primary Care services require more resources and investment, and this should now be provided to existing, localised GP services – North Tyneside CCG should not be wasting taxpayers money by contracting out to private, profit making companies with shareholders. It is crucial that, now, the North Tyneside CCG focus needs to be on investing in the existing North Tyneside Primary Care teams. Investment should be made to develop our existing GP services, including employing additional staff for these local services – the pandemic has led to many North Tyneside practices developing their own in-house video call and telephone work and this service (and others) could be enhanced.
27th May 2021: Read the KONPNE statement to North Tyneside CCG
Read the statement provided by KONPNE to North Tyneside CCG, with copy to Healthwatch North Tyneside, here
CURRENT: One email, four actions (for North Tyneside residents)
⇒ North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the NHS organisation that commissioned Livi. Provide your complaint and/or feedback re future commissioning via their online contact form, which is at https://www.northtynesideccg.nhs.uk/contact-us/new-contact-form/ Please add your name and address as confirmation that you are a North Tyneside resident. Please feel free to highlight some of the strong objections, as identified in the sections below.
⇒ Copy the above complaint re NT CCG and / or feedback re future commissioning to firstname.lastname@example.org Healthwatch North Tyneside represents the opinions of patients and ensures that the views of patients shape local services. They are your representatives, so please email them to let them know your views!!
⇒ Copy the above complaint re NT CCG and / or feedback re future commissioning to Councillor Karen Clark, Cabinet Member responsible for Public Health and Wellbeing, and Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, North Tyneside Council: email@example.com
⇒ ….and, finally, copy the above complaint re NT CCG and / or feedback re future commissioning to your MP. Your North Tyneside MP is either Mary Glindon MP (North Tyneside) – firstname.lastname@example.org or Alan Campbell MP (Tynemouth) – email@example.com
THANK YOU!!! Please let us know how you get on, including responses – our KONPNE email address is firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
One email, two actions (if you live outside North Tyneside):
It is now crucial for all people living in the North East to voice concerns about this insidious privatisation of our NHS; our concern is what is happening in North Tyneside today may well be happening in other NE localities tomorrow.
⇒ Email your local Clinical Commissioning Group, and feel free to highlight some of the strong objections and key issues identified below. Email addresses for all CCGs across the North East are here
⇒ Copy your CCG email to your local Healthwatch. Email addresses for all Healthwatch organisations across the North East are here
⇒ The above two actions are the priority. However, if you have time, please also write to (or copy in) your local councillors and MP; again, all email addresses are here,
Please let us know how you get on, including responses – our KONPNE email address is email@example.com Thank you.
Strong objections and key issues
“I’ve been very surprised about this whole process from the CCG and from Livi, and all the residents I speak to are also surprised. This seems to have come totally out of the blue. I want the CCG to come to the Health Scrutiny Committee, present their report, present their findings, tell us about the process and the contract, and I want to get down to the bottom of how much money this is taking out of the NHS for private profit” North Tyneside Cllr Joe Kirwin speaking to Sharon Barbour, BBC Look North, 27th August 2020
“Services should be put into mainstream general practice, more GPs, more nurses….not to a private company offering a little easy cherry-picking straightforward patient service” Dr Gerard Reissmann, Newcastle-upon Tyne GP re Livi, 7th October 2020 – see link below
“North Tyneside Council is 100% opposed to any privatisation of the NHS and as long as Labour remain in control of North Tyneside Council it shall remain opposed to any privatisation of our precious NHS….The evaluation of the (Livi) pilot will be under the full scrutiny of all committee members. We agree that North Tyneside CCG should not be putting healthcare into the hands of profit-making companies….We’ve seen this year exploitation of the NHS by private businesses for huge profits by friends of government. A great example of how not to trust commercial arrangements”. North Tyneside Councillor Margaret Hall, Full North Tyneside Council meeting, 26th November 2020
KONPNE strongly objects to this insidious privatisation of the NHS. Apart from the central fact that North Tyneside CCG should not be wasting taxpayers money by contracting out to private, profit making companies with shareholders, a number of key issues need to be answered as a matter of urgency:
> the credentials of Livi – this business has only had a recent presence in the UK.
> CQC reporting: the link here to the Care Quality Commission highlights that there is no public record of the type or outcome of initial assessments carried out by the CQC on Livi.
The CQC website page also identifies that “follow up inspections of new services are undertaken regularly following registration”; however, the banner information point on the Livi page states that “CQC have not inspected this service yet”. We wonder if this is usual practice for NT CCG to go ahead with commissioning a service without CQC inspection? The use of the CQC logo on Livi’s introductory letter gives an impression that all is well and good?
> the commissioning process – only Livi was asked to give a demonstration, the other two providers, Babylon (GP at Hand) and Push Doctor, were only “considered”; what criteria were used by NT CCG in commissioning Livi? See minutes here from NT CCG
> consultation – both North Tyneside MPs were not consulted, no discussion with North Tyneside Councillors, cursory liaison with the North Tyneside public, concerns expressed by some North Tyneside GPs.
> What steps were taken to enable local GPs to manage this service?
> contract details – how much is it costing? Why is there no mention of it being a pilot scheme in the Livi publicity material?
> continuity; continuity of care is of the utmost importance in Primary Care, yet it would be exceptional if the patient spoke to the same Livi Gp more than once
> local knowledge, local systems and organisations – our GPs link in with many non-statutory organisations and collaboration is a key feature of their work; Livi GPs (communicating to us from elsewhere in the UK) won’t have any knowledge about what is generally available in the local area
> virtual assessment – whilst on-line appointments may benefit some people (for example, those who find it difficult to travel to their GP), many difficulties are associated with virtual appointments; many patients require a physical examination of some kind, and the assessment of people experiencing mental health issues may also be hindered.
> misdiagnosis – apart from having an immediate and potentially very serious impact on a patients health and wellbeing, an initial incorrect or lack of treatment will inevitably lead to a need for increased medical interventions at some later stage
> health inequality – the use of phone (especially with video) is likely to increase inequalities in health provision, as more vulnerable and older people are less likely to be using smart phones and iPads and are also less likely to have access to broadband, spare minutes and data
> Confidentiality – whilst Livi may not own, and be able to sell, health data we remain concerned that they will be able to retain and sell other personal data to third parties.
> The bottle neck in General Practice is time…there are not enough GPs. Looking at the bigger picture, this system clearly doesn’t create GP time – it steals it. How does it help if we continue to take more GPs out of mainstream General Practice and relocate them in 111, Out of Hours and now tuning into video apps. These are not Add Ons – they are Takeaways
> and we keep coming back to the fundamental question – why is the funding provided to Livi not being invested in local, existing primary care services? It is clearly a cost-cutting exercise, increasing macro privatisation and undermining localised provision….
KONPNE supports innovation and new ways of working and, indeed, our NHS has evolved over time to the world-class service of today. What we strongly object to is cost-cutting, decreased quality and the insidious privatisation of the NHS – North Tyneside CCG should not be wasting taxpayers money by contracting out to private, profit making companies with shareholders.
Livi on the run
The money we pay in tax should go into patient care, and not be squandered on trucks trundling around North Tyneside on pre-determined routes, carrying Livi promotional material….
…..And why is there a need to advertise this information so forcibly?
Livi on the run – on the road up to Holywell
….And also, while we’re about it…. WHY does Livi / NT CCG resort to (or agree to) this sort of archaic self-promotion. True healthcare involves keeping our air clean, reduced traffic (and thus reduced accidents) on our streets – and the money actually being spent on the direct provision of care….
….and, NO, we don’t need Livi branded handsanitiser in GP practices as a privatised company sweetener….
….and Livi in the shadows
Despite our best endeavours on a number of occasions, the actual contract between North Tyneside CCG and Livi, plus operational policy, plus financial arrangements, all remain cloaked in secrecy aka “exempt from disclosure under section 43 (2) – commercial interests”.
Additionally, and interestingly, members of the public are not allowed to observe the Livi Steering Group meetings (the group, hosted by North Tyneside CCG, to oversee the Livi pilot and evaluation) and, perhaps even more interestingly, the minutes of these meetings are not available for public perusal. Well – so much for “listening to, and communicating with, local people and stakeholders (which) will increase understanding and confidence in local health services”. Communication? Increased understanding? Transparency? Collaboration?
So – who is actually involved and contributing to the decision-making process about this private healthcare company contract in NT? We understand that the North Tyneside Livi Steering Group comprises Bill Westwood (Secretary Regional LMC), Alan Mc Cubbin (Chair North Tyneside LMC), Andrew White (NHSE NCSU), Dave Tomson (GP Collingwood Surgery), Wendy Hume (North Tyneside CCG), Gary Charlton (North Tyneside CCG), Jeffrey Goldthorpe (North Tyneside CCG), Kaye McEntee (North Tyneside CCG), Teresa Ho (North Tyneside CCG), Wally Charlton (North Tyneside CCG), Lesley Young Murphy (North Tyneside CCG), Maureen Grievson (North Tyneside CCG), Michele Spencer (North Tyneside Community and Health Care Forum), Paul Jones (CEO Healthwatch North Tyneside), Paul Richardson (North Tyneside Council), Joe Kirwan (North Tyneside Council), Ruth Evans (GP The Village Green Surgery), Kirstin Richardson (GP Bewicke Medical Centre), Lynne Dodgson (Practice Manager Whitley Bay HC) and Sandra Smith (CQC).
WE ARE TALKING PUBLIC MONEY – so why the shadows and secrecy. See our Freedom of Information request, sent to North Tyneside CCG on 15th May 2021 here
Activity so far
KONPNE are now urgently gathering and disseminating information – for example, Freedom of Information requests to the CCG, informing members of the public and liaising with key people (patients, local media, GPs, British Medical Association, surgeries, Councillors, MPs, Unions). Please keep an eye on this website page and our social media for updates on developments and information about how to join in.
Please read on for some key links and statements about Livi in North Tyneside….
> North Tyneside Councillors were unaware:
Hear North Tyneside Councillor Joe Kirwin speak (27th August 2020) here
> North Tyneside Council is “opposed to NHS privatisation”:
KONPNE member John Whalley questioned the full Council on 26th November 2020.
Our question is here and Councillor Margaret Halls response to our question is here at part 9. The video of the Council meeting is here (go to 38:40 mins)
Councillor Hall made the North Tyneside Council position very clear: “North Tyneside Council is 100% opposed to any privatisation of the NHS and as long as Labour remain in control of North Tyneside Council it shall remain opposed to any privatisation of our precious NHS”.
Regarding Livi, Councillor Hall went on to say that “The evaluation of the pilot will be under the full scrutiny of all committee members. We agree that North Tyneside CCG should not be putting healthcare into the hands of profit-making companies….We’ve seen this year exploitation of the NHS by private businesses for huge profits by friends of government. A great example of how not to trust commercial arrangements”.
The Livi contract will be up for evaluation in the early part of 2021, representatives of North Tyneside Council are on the evaluation group, and we expect these people to stand up and be counted regarding this important matter.
> Read the report on the meeting of North Tyneside Council “Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing Sub Committee” (11th February 2021)
click here – Councillors were not impressed with Livi….
and also see the minutes of this meeting here , together with the video of Councillor discussions (click on the youtube link towards the top of the same Council minutes page)
> The two North Tyneside MPs were not consulted:
KONPNE email to Mary Glindon MP, and Mary Glindons response: Mary Glindon MP email and response re Livi
Email from Alan Campbell, MP: Alan Campbell MP response re Livi
Email to all North East MPs: Livi email to North East MPs, March 2021
> ….and North Tyneside GPs? Not everyone is happy….
Hear what Dr D Tomson, North Tyneside GP says (26th August 2020) here
> A statement from North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group:
Hear from North Tyneside CCG (26th August 2020) here
This comment is clearly not good enough; North Tyneside CCG need to see the bigger picture. It is NOT about “adding” to a service but IS about privatisation, shareholders and another stage in the ongoing erosion of localised NHS services.
> Local GP speaks out:
Dr Gerard Reissmann (Newcastle-upon-Tyne GP) speaks out against this privatisation in primary care (7th October 2020) here
> KONPNE briefing to North Tyneside GPs and Local Medical Committee
is here (March 2021)
> KONPNE puts questions to North Tyneside CCG:
KONPNE “Freedom of Information” (FOI) Request to North Tyneside CCG (20th September 2020): FOI re Livi 20th September 2020 ….
….and North of England Commissioning Support Units response re FOI (28th September 2020): FOI Response from North Tyneside CCG
See also here our second FOI to North Tyneside CCG and the response from the CCG (12th November 2020). Clearly, any additional input from service users is not welcomed, and we’re still no clearer about how the pilot will be evaluated – the “co-produced, logic framework” remains a mystery for the time being… we are investigating further
And the subsequent FOI to North Tyneside CCG (25th March 2021): FOI NT CCG 25th March 2021 – information needed regarding the review process
and also this letter to North Tyneside CCG here (March 2021)
The CCG response to our March 2021 FOI is here (13th April 2021)
> ….and to North Tyneside Council:
KONPNE formally puts five questions to North Tyneside Council: Question re NHS privatisation – North Tyneside Council Sept 2020
> Email to local health Unions
is here (March 2021)
Good to get this support from Unite in Newcastle:
> NHS Support Federation:
“NHS for Sale” – Read the background on Livi (and other independent providers) here
> Healthwatch North Tyneside:
outline on their website that they are “the independent voice for people using health and social care services in North Tyneside” and that they “are here to help make sure that those designing, running and regulating health and social care listen to people’s views and act on them” See here
KONPNE email to Healthwatch North Tyneside: Questions to NT Healthwatch Nov 2020
and the telephone response from Healthwatch Director Paul Jones is here: Healthwatch telephone call – 23rd March 2021 (23rd March 2021)
> Research by Healthwatch North Tyneside:
Read the research by Healthwatch North Tyneside (29th July 2020) “Accessing Primary Care”
Yes – we agree, definitely pros and cons. It is crucial that NHS services move with the times (as it has always done), and the use of digital technology does have its place. What we strongly object to the insidious privatisation of the NHS and the drift away from localised services – we are interested in what steps were taken to enable local GPs to manage this service?
Transcript of the BBC “Look North” item (26th August 2020): Livi Look North item 26th August 2020
Sharon Barbour, BBC Look North, reports on the privatisation currently taking place within North Tyneside GP surgeries (24th September2020) here
Article in Pulse magazine (1st September 2020) re North Tyneside CCG and Livi: Livi -North Tyneside CCG – Pulse 9-2020
Coverage in “Health Campaigns Together” News Bulletin is here (page 4) – Yes, North Tyneside is definitely on the slippery privatisation slope.
KONPNE letter to the Chronicle, Journal and local newspapers in the North East (14th September 2020): Letter to newspapers re Livi September 2020
> Corporate big business interests are enmeshed in the NHS:
Livi describes itself as “Europes leading digital healthcare company backed by top tier investors including Accel and Index Ventures….”. KONPNE stands for HEALTH and not WEALTH – innovations in healthcare should be carried out by a publicly owned / funded / run NHS.
Excellent article from “999 Call for the NHS” (14th June 2019), providing much background information, is here
Financial Times (21st January 2019): NHS Englands digital chief is criticised after joining start-up here
> Livi has poor reviews nationally:
As far as the national picture is concerned, read recent reviews of Livi on the official NHS website here – whist the number of user reviews about Livi on the NHS site is very low (only 25), a staggering 80% of these (20) are overwhelmingly negative….
The NHS Support Federation write
“Reviews on the NHS website from August 2020 to December 2020 were almost all negative and highlighted problems with long waits, cancelled appointments, and technical matters. Reviewers noted repeatedly cancelled appointments due to a lack of GPs and suggested that whatever Livi promised, the company would also suffer from the shortage of GPs experienced by a conventional surgery. There were also problems with verifying ID and prescriptions being issued.”
> The bigger picture….
GP Online (18th February 2021) US company’s subsidiary to hold nearly 1% of GP contracts in England
The Lowdown (17th May 2021) Is online access to GPs increasing their workload?
NO TO LIVI….every 45 seconds
Saturday 8th May – we took our petition against this private healthcare business to the residents of Tynemouth and North Shields, and our anti-privatisation Campaign hit an all-time high with an average of one signature every 45 seconds. A very clear message indeed to North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group; NO TO BIG BUSINESS IN PRIMARY CARE, NO TO SHAREHOLDERS IN PRIMARY CARE, NO FURTHER CONTRACT RENEWAL FOR “LIVI”.